Republicans have a new thing to blame President Obama for, and it is Donald Trump‘s racist, fascist anti-Muslim platform. The theory goes that since President Obama won’t acknowledge the role of a twisted interpretation of Islam in attacks like those that occurred recently in Paris and San Bernardino, people have no other choice but to embrace Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country (temporarily!). This is an offshoot of the long-running Republican Rumpelstiltskin theory that requires the use of the specific phrase “radical Islam” (which the President has used), but it goes even further to suggest that President Obama is completely ignoring the role of Islamic extremism in terror attacks.
It goes without saying that Republicans are going to say dumb shit, but twice this week, respected members of the liberal media have utterly failed at correcting or following up on blatantly false iterations of this particular attack. On Thursday night’s All In, host Chris Hayes tried to do a good thing by getting Republican strategist Katie Packer to explain the obsession with the secret “radical Islam” password, but here’s the explanation she gave:
“I think it’s important that people feel like he understands what the problem is. And if he’s not willing to address that the problem is a very radical ideology, it’s a religious ideology, and some folks that are willing to give their own life in order to take other people’s lives in the name of their religion, it is important to identify that that’s what the problem is. And I don’t know — by contrast I don’t see what the problem is with the president acknowledging it, ha ha ha.”
In Hayes’ defense, he did get sidetracked by Packer’s incredibly stupid subsequent assertion that people are more aware of Islamic extremism now than they were following 9/11, but Chris Hayes is the one guy you would expect to point out that President Obama just got done saying the exact thing that Packer claims he didn’t say. It was just last weekend, right before football!
We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.
That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.
Oh, thank God, I thought I’d hallucinated the whole thing.
This was not subtle, and it even pissed off some Muslims, but Republicans insist it never happened. On MTP Daily, former Pennsylvania Governor and first-ever Secretary of Der Homeland Security Tom Ridge also tried to blame Trump on Obama, and Chuck Todd just let it drift:
Chuck Todd: What do you say to Mr. and Mrs. America that doesn’t know many people who are Muslim, and only sees the reports? Make them feel better.
Tom Ridge: Chuck, I think that’s a wonderful question. And the person that should have addressed that is the incumbent president of the United Statesm and he had an opportunity to do that a couple of days ago. Remember, this is a president that drew a red line and then ignored it. But I would have encouraged the President, if he had called me about the context of that speech, is draw the red line, and talk about the hundreds of millions of law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims, not only among the 8 million Muslims in this country, but around the world. And on the other side of that line are the radicals, these fundamentalists, extremists who have wrapped themselves in this perverted ideology and interpretation of the Koran. He’s the individual that should have allayed the fears about the good Muslim men and women and children in this country.
The fact is that President Obama and his administration have been making this case all along, have consistently detailed ISIS’ ideology, including the religious texts from which they claim to draw inspiration. It’s bad enough that the media has consistently failed to call out the idiocy underlying the “radical Islam” catchphrase, but it is inexcusable to allow Republicans to blatantly lie about what the President has said.
In fact, current events would seem to validate the President’s preference not to use the term “radical Islam,” because the people who favor it most, Republicans, are currently engaged in the thing President Obama was trying to avoid, which is casting suspicion on an entire religion based on the actions of a few. By letting this narrative of lies flourish, the media is abetting them.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.